QUESTION 31. What is effectual calling?

ANSWER: Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 1. Why is effectual calling termed a work?

A. Because it is effected by various operations or workings of the Spirit of God upon the soul, therefore called "the seven Spirits which are before his throne," Rev. 1:4.

Q. 2. Why is it called a work of God's Spirit?

A. Because it relates to the application of redemption, which is the special work of God's Spirit, John 16:14:-- "He," says Christ of the Spirit, "shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."

Q. 3. How manifold is the divine calling?

A. Twofold: outward, by the word; and inward, by the Spirit.

Q. 4. What is the outward call by the word?

A. It is the free and unlimited invitation given, in the dispensation of the gospel, to all the hearers of it, to receive Christ, and salvation with him, Isa. 55:1; Rev. 22:17.

Q. 5. What is the inward call by the Spirit?

A. It is the Spirit's accompanying the outward call with power and efficacy upon the soul, John 6:45.

Q. 6. Which of these is effectual in bringing sinners to Christ?

A. The inward call, by the Spirit: "for it is the Spirit that quickeneth," John 6:63; the outward call, by the word, is of itself ineffectual; "for many are called, but few are chosen," Matt. 22:14.

Q. 7. What is meant by few being chosen?

A. That few are determined effectually to embrace the call; and therefore termed a little flock, Luke 12:32.

Q. 8. What is the main or leading work of the Spirit in effectual calling?

A. It is that by which he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel, Phil. 2:13.

Q. 9. What is it to embrace Christ?

A. It is, like Simeon, to clasp him in the arms of faith, with complacency and delight; Luke 2:28.

Q. 10. Where is it that faith embraces him?

A. In the promises of the gospel, Heb. 11:13.

Q. 11. What is the gospel?

A. It is good news, or glad tidings of life and salvation to lost sinners of mankind, through a "Saviour, who is Christ the Lord," Luke 2:10, 11.

Q. 12. What warrant has faith to embrace him in the promise of the gospel?

A. His Father's gift, John 3:16, and his own offer of himself in it, Isa. 45:22.

Q. 13. Can there be an embracing, or receiving, without a previous giving?

A. "A man can receive" -- margin, take unto himself -- "nothing, except it be given him from heaven," John 3:27.

Q. 14. What is the faith of the gospel offer?

A. It is a believing that Jesus Christ, with his righteousness, and all his salvation is, by himself, offered to sinners, and to each of them in particular, Prov. 8:4; John 7:37.

Q. 15. When is the word of the gospel-offer savingly believed?

A. When it is powerfully applied by the Holy Spirit to the soul in particular, as the word and voice of Christ himself, and not of men, 1 Thess. 1:5, and 2:13.

Q. 16. How can we believe it is the voice of Christ himself in the offer, when Christ is now in heaven, and we hear no voice from thence?

A. The voice of Christ in his written word, is more sure than a voice from heaven itself, 2 Pet. 1:18, 19; and it is this voice of Christ in the word, that is the stated ground of faith, Rom. 1:16, 17.

Q. 17. How is Christ offered in the gospel?

A. Freely, as well as fully, Rev. 22:17.

Q. 18. To whom is he offered?

A. To us sinners of mankind, as such, Prov. 8:4.

Q. 19. Have we any natural inclination to embrace the gospel-offer?

A. No; the Spirit doth persuade us to it, 2 Cor. 5:11.

Q. 20. Will moral suasion, or arguments taken from the promises and threatenings of the word, persuade any to embrace Christ?

A. No; the enticing words of man's wisdom will not do; nothing less is sufficient, than the demonstration of the Spirit, that so our faith may not "stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God," 1 Cor. 2:4, 5.

Q. 21. Have we any ability of our own to believe in Christ, or to embrace him?

A. No; the Spirit of faith doth enable us to do it, 2 Cor. 4:13.

Q. 22. By what means does the Spirit persuade and enable us to embrace Christ?

A. By convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills.

Q. 23. What is the object of the convincing work of the Spirit; or of what does he convince us?

A. Of our sin and misery, Acts 2:37.

Q. 24. Of what sin does the Spirit convince us?

A. Both of original and actual sin, Mark 7:21, particularly of unbelief, John 16:9.

Q. 25. Of what misery does he convince us?

A. Of the misery of losing communion with God, 2 Cor. 6:14, 15; and being under his wrath and curse, in time, and through eternity, Isa. 33:14.

Q. 26. How does the Spirit convince us of sin and misery?

A. By the law, Rom. 3:20 -- "By the law is the knowledge of sin."

Q. 27. What knowledge of sin have we by the law?

A. By the precept of the law, we have the knowledge of the evil nature of sin, Rom. 7:7, and by the threatening, the knowledge of the guilt and desert of it, Gal. 3:10.

Q. 28. In what capacity does the Spirit convince us of sin by the law?

A. As a spirit of bondage working fear, Rom. 8:15.

Q. 29. Have all had an equal measure of this kind of conviction, who have been persuaded to embrace Christ?

A. No; some have had more, and some less, as in the instances of Paul and Lydia, Acts 9:6, 9, compared with chap. 16:14.

Q. 30. What measure of conviction by the law, is requisite for such as are come to full ripeness of age?

A. Such a measure as to let them see, that they are sinners by nature, both in heart and life; that they are lost and undone under the curse of the law, and wrath of God; and that they are utterly incapable of recovering themselves, as being legally and spiritually dead, Rom. 7:9.

Q. 31. Why is such a measure as this, of legal conviction, requisite in the adult?

A. Because, otherwise, they would never see the need they stand in of Christ as a Saviour, either from sin or wrath, Matt. 9:12, 13.

Q. 32. Is this measure of conviction necessary as a condition of our welcome to Christ, or as a qualification fitting us to believe on him?

A. No; but merely as a motive, to excite us to make use of our privilege of free access to him, Hos. 14:1 -- "O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity."

Q. 33. Have not some been under deep legal convictions, and yet never effectually called?

A. Yes; Judas went to hell under a load of this kind of conviction, Matt. 27:3-5.

Q. 34. Is not the enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, a means of persuading and enabling us to embrace him?

A. Yes; for, "how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard?" Rom. 10:14.

Q. 35. What is the subject of the Spirit's enlightening?

A. Our minds or understandings, which are the eyes of the soul, Eph. 1:18 -- "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened," &c.

Q. 36. What is the object of this enlightening, or in what are we enlightened?

A. It is in the knowledge of Christ, Phil. 3:8.

Q. 37. Who is the author of saving illumination in the knowledge of Christ?

A. The Holy Spirit, who is therefore called, "the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him," Eph. 1:17.

Q. 38. In what condition is the mind, before it is enlightened by the Spirit?

A. In gross darkness and ignorance, as to the "things of the Spirit of God," 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 5:8.

Q. 39. What is it in Christ that the Spirit enlightens the mind in the knowledge of?

A. In the knowledge of his person, righteousness, offices, fullness, &c. John 15:26, says Christ of the Spirit, "He shall testify of me."

Q. 40. What are the distinguishing properties of saving illumination?

A. It is of an humbling, Job. 42:5, 6, sanctifying, John 17:17, transforming, 2 Cor. 3:18, and growing nature, Hos. 6:3.

Q. 41. What is the necessity of this illumination, order to the embracing of Christ?

A. Because, without it, there can be no discerning of his matchless excellency, inexhaustible sufficiency, and universal suitableness, the saving knowledge of which is necessary to the comfortable embracing of him, Psalm 9:10 -- "They that know thy name, will put their trust in thee."

Q. 42. By what means does the Spirit enlighten the mind in the knowledge of Christ?

A. By means of the gospel Rom. 10:17.

Q. 43. Does not the renewing our wills accompany the illumination of our minds?

A. Yes; when "the Lord shall send the rod of his strength out of Zion," there shall be a "willing people in the day of his power," Psalm 110:2, 3.

Q. 44. In what consists the renovation of the will?

A. In working in it a new inclination or propensity to good, and a fixed aversion to whatever is evil, Ezek. 36:26.

Q. 45. Does the Spirit, in the renovation of the will, use any violence or compulsion?

A. No; he makes us willing in the day of his power, Psalm 110:3.

Q. 46. What is the natural disposition of the will before it is renewed?

A. It is wicked and rebellious, full of enmity against Christ, and the way of salvation through him, John 5:40.

Q. 47. Can any man change, or renew, his own will?

A. No more than the "Ethiopian can change his skin, or the leopard his spots," Jer. 13:23.

Q. 48. What necessity is there for renewing the will, in order to the embracing of Christ?

A. Because till this be done, the natural ill will that is in sinners against Christ, in all his offices, will be retained, 2 Cor. 5:17.

Q. 49. In what appears the ill will which sinners bear to Christ as a Prophet?

A. In the conceit of their own wisdom, Prov. 1:22, and slighting the means of instruction, Prov. 26:12.

Q. 50. How do they manifest their aversion to him as a Priest?

A. "In going about to establish their own righteousness, and refusing to submit themselves unto the righteousness of God," Rom. 10:3.

Q. 51. How do they manifest their opposition to him as a King?

A. In their hatred of holiness, love to sin, and saying, in fact, concerning him, "We will not have this man to reign over us," Luke 19:14.

Q. 52. Who are the only persons that are effectually called?

A. All the elect, and they only, Acts 13:48 -- "As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed."[37]

Q. 53. What may we learn from the doctrine of effectual calling?

A. That "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance," Rom. 11:29; that "all things work together for good -- to them that are the called according to his purpose," Rom. 8:28; and that it is our duty to "walk worthy of God, who hath called us unto his kingdom and glory," 1 Thess. 2:12.

[37] Larger Catechism, Q. 68
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